This section is from the book "Grand Canyon Of The Colorado River - John L. Stoddard's Lectures", by John L. Stoddard. Also available from Amazon: John L. Stoddard's Lectures 13 Volume Set.
The mesas of New Mexico and Arizona are, usually, regular in outline, sometimes resembling in the distance cloud-banks on the edge of the horizon, but oftener suggesting mighty fortresses, or ramparts to resist invasion, like the wall of China. These are not only beautiful in form and color, but from the fact that they recall the works of man, we gaze at them with wonder, and find in them a fascinating interest. They prove that Nature needs some human association to appeal strongly to us, and how man's history of smiles and tears gives pathos, mystery, and romance to scenes which otherwise would be merely coldly beautiful or terribly sublime. It is for this reason, doubtless, that we are always endeavoring to personify Nature. We think of solitary trees as lonely, of storm-tossed waves as angry, and of a group of mountains as members of one family.
A Group Of Mesas.
Thus some of the Arizona mountains are called brothers. No doubt their birth was attended by the same throes of Mother Earth, and they possess certain family resemblances in their level summits, huge square shoulders, and the deep furrows in their rugged cheeks; while all of them evince the same disdain for decoration, scorning alike the soft rich robes of verdure and the rough storm-coats of the pines.
The idea of companionship in Nature is not wholly fanciful. Is not the fundamental law of the universe the attraction which one mass of matter has for another? Even the awful distances in interstellar space form no exception to this rule; for telescopic scrutiny reveals the fact that planets, suns, and systems move in harmony, on paths which indicate that they are all associated in the stupendous drama of the skies. The human interest connected with the mountains and the mesas of New Mexico and Arizona is not very great. No mediaeval mystery haunts these castles sculptured by the hand of Nature. No famous romancer has lighted on their cliffs the torch of his poetic fancy. No poet has yet peopled them with creatures of his imagination. We can, unfortunately, conjure up from their majestic background no more romantic picture than that of some Pueblo Indian wooing his dusky bride. Yet they are not without some reminiscences of heroism; for valiant men, a half century ago, following the westward moving star of empire, braved almost inconceivable hardships in their shadow, when, after four thousand years, American pioneers repeated the old, old story, begun upon the plains of Shinar, as the "Sons of the East" went westward in their quest of fortune. How few of us think of those unrecorded heroes now, as we cross this region in luxurious cars! To most of us the dead, whose bones once whitened many of these lonely plains, are nothing more than the last winter's snowdrifts melted by the sun; yet how effectively the Saxon has succeeded in his conquest of the continent we have continual evidence as we glide swiftly, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, through glowing grain fields, prosperous cities, and states that rival empires in size. Where formerly the Spanish conquerors, in their fruitless search for the reputed Seven Cities glittering with gold, endured privations and exhibited bravery which have hardly been surpassed in the entire history of the world; and where, too, as if it were but yesterday, the American Argonauts toiled painfully for months through tribes of hostile Indians, across desert wastes and over cloud-encompassed mountains, we find ourselves the inmates of a rolling palace, propelled by one of Nature's tireless forces, and feel at times in our swift flight as if we were the occupants of a cushioned cannon-ball of glass. Even the crossing of one of the many viaducts along our route is a reminder of how science has been summoned to assist the invader in his audacious enterprise of girdling a continent with steel.
On The Old Santa FÉ Trail.
An Arizona Cloud-Effect.
Old Home Of Kit Carson, Taos, N. M.
Grave Of Kit Carson, Taos, N. M.